He was 17 when he first competed in the Red Bull BC One World Final 2007 in South Africa. Nine years later, Taisuke is one of the Red Bull BC One All Stars and has competed in 6 world finals.
Currently in his home country for the 2016 edition, we sat down to chat about what has changed at Red Bull BC One over the last decade, and why he’s decided to retire after Saturday’s show.
Hey Taisuke. You’re now 26 – how long have you been dancing for exactly?
My sister started dancing first and I joined her when I was six years old. After a year, we got a new teacher. His name was B-Boy Mar and when he showed me some B-Boy moves like swipes and windmills and stuff, I was just blown away. It looked so cool and I was just, “Wow! I need to learn that!”
How has Red Bull BC One changed over the last decade?
The line-up is really young now. Also, the system changed several times in the past. I think we kind of lost the special performers over the years. Like Cico, he’s really specialized in power moves, or Junior who’s a very special style. When they are part of the line-up, you get to see some really special battles, but when it’s all about winning, those B-Boys will not be part of it anymore and I feel we are losing out. There is nothing surprising anymore about the battles. It’s too much about winning today, too much of a tournament. We need to go back to be able to show the variety of this dance!
How about you – how have you changed over the past 10 years?
Many things have changed! I speak English now, I have sponsors and a business, but my mind and my focus have changed, too. My mind really opened up and I have a lot of respect for other dancers and other cultures, especially for young talents.
In one of your latest interviews you mentioned that you were retiring. Can you tell us a bit more on this?
Well, I will still enter crew battles. But yes, I want to retire from the Red Bull BC One now. Tomorrow will be my last Red Bull BC One battle. I want other people to get a chance at this. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to represent the Japanese B-Boy scene for so many years.
Being part of the Red Bull BC One opened so many doors for me and gave me the chance to travel all over the world and experience lots and I would love for some young kids to get that same chance now. I don’t want to take that spot away from them.
Japan is an island. To make new experiences, to evolve, in life and in dance, we need to travel. Katsu was the first one to tell me about his trips abroad and he shared his knowledge with me. He also helped me to get out of the country myself. Now it’s my time, I would love to see some younger kids get the opportunities that I had. Katsu brought his experiences back to Japan and so did I, but we need to spread the knowledge and many more kids need to get the chance to learn and travel, so they can bring it back to Japan.
What’s next for you then?
This year, I founded a company. It’s kind of a marketing company, except we are not working with businesses but we are helping cities or rural areas in their development, partly through Hip Hop and dance, but also in other areas.
I stopped teaching this year. There are so many dance studios and dance classes now, so I don’t teach regular classes anymore, just workshops from time to time. I’d rather try to find sponsorship and business opportunities for young talents. I have a good standing right now and sponsors approach me. I try to make the sponsors understand that there are many young talents needing their support.
After being in so many world finals, do you still need to train for the world final? Anything special?
This year, I started going to the gym. Working out and building up muscles. That’s basically it.
How are you approaching your last Red Bull BC One battle?
I just want to enjoy the event! I don’t need to win. My life is good and I am really happy. I’m going to be in the Red Bull BC One World Final. I achieved so much. So on Saturday, I’m just gonna freestyle, have fun and enjoy the moment. And say ‘thank you,’ to the scene, to my fans, to Red Bull BC One and to everybody who supported me.
Photo by Jason Halayko